Vancouverism@30: The Game Changing EV

The dawn of clean energy is also the advent of free energy—and that will prove to be the game changer.





For two decades arguments in Vancouver about sustainable urbanism have centered on curbing car use in order to reduce green house gases. Our civic leaders have sold us Towers-and-Skytrain as Eco-Density when in reality something like a Laundromat for off-shore wealth has been driving large projects here since the late 1970s. Further more, the ecology of towers is an urban myth. The very ‘voices of doom’ have never referenced the alternative: switching fuel sources from fossils to electric. In a land where power has been green since the 1950s, where 93% of electricity is hydro-electric, switching to electric energy and driving electric vehicles (EVs) should be a no-brainer. A natural common place.

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Melbourne @ 8 million

Cadastral model

2010 Computer model of intensification scheme, Melbourne, Australia (green & dark blue areas do not change)

Rob Adams, Director of City Design at the City of Melbourne, Australia, and Professor at the Europe-Australia Institute, Victoria University, Melbourne, presented a concept in 2010 that would double the population in Melbourne. Dubbed Melbourne @ 8 Million, the program calls for doubling the population of the city by using only 7.5% of the urban footprint. The premise that only a small footprint of urban land is required to expand urban populations in cities experiencing over 60 years of modern sprawl is open to question. Growth is the engine of change. The prospect of leaving 93.5% of the city untouched raises questions about what things there are that may need changing in the vast areas developed as suburban sprawl.  I explored the idea of residential intensification on the arterials locally in 2009. Some details of Ron Adam’s presentation don’t stand up to scrutiny. For example, defining buildout as 5-storeys-plus leaves the door open for market manipulation.

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5 principles for ‘good’ urbanism

transect-T4'good' urbanism

Leon Krier – Transect T4 – american towns

The 30-minute slide lecture presents a formidable challenge: Can we boil down a message as complex and multi-facetted as ‘good’ urbanism into a small set of manageable principles? Probably not, but that’s no reason to stop trying.

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Andrés Duany on transect planning & form based codes for Vancouver

Cuban born urbanist Andrés Duany presents his singular contribution to town planning— the urban transect. Speaking in Vancouver in 2008 after completing the South Fraser Lands Charrette Duany is in top form chiding the audience and taunting his critics while laying out a comprehensive presentation of transect planning and form based coding. Follow him on a walk through his break through project Seaside Florida here.

Read The Tyee nailing Duany in a 2007 interview NOT!


Vancovuer NOT-TOD

Walking near Joyce Station, Vancouver (Google Images 2012)

Skytrain is being used as the preferred technology for transit in our region. Yet, as this Google view shows, significant issues in urban design present today when we add density within easy walking distance of elevated transit. The challenge we face is combining transit planning with community planning. Typically, this is done under the rubric of an urban design plan. Continue reading “When TOD is NOT-TOD”

Density & Built Form in Canada

Montreal-Place Roi-web

Place: Montreal

Height: 4 stories

Density: 80 units/acre

Supported Quartier Population: 21,000

Last June the Provincial Legislature changed the law making it legal to build row houses for the first time in British Columbia. The photos here are part of a Canada-wide survey completed between 2011 and 2013 of just this building type presented at various conferences and lectures. Two conclusions bubble to the surface. First, it is possible to achieve high-density — in the order of 100 units per acre — using fee-simple, human-scale product. Second, the quartiers or neighbourhoods that result are highly supportive of social functioning. They present values of community and values of place lacking in both the Modern suburbs and tower neighbourhoods.
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The Paradigm Shift

Participants in MTP (Mount Pleasant) Walking Tour — 6 may 2012

[Photo: Stephen Bohus, BLA]

Vancouver, and North America, are experiencing a shift in planning paradigm from automobile-driven suburban development to human-scale neighbourhoods. One century after the shift to Modernism we are once more in a moment of change. What we all knew as status quo is being replaced by something new. Old places are being renewed through incremental redevelopment. However, other places are experiencing change that is highly disruptive.

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